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Teachers union calls for protection against violent pupils

According to Times LIVE the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) is calling for help protecting Eastern Cape teachers from violent pupils.

This follows a principal at a secondary school in the Eastern Cape getting attacked by one who left the educator with a large gash on the forehead.

The union has complained about a lack of discipline in classrooms, as well as a lack of action against pupils who assault and violate the rights of teachers.

The Eastern Cape isn’t the only place where violence against teachers has hit the news. eNCA reported in March that the Gauteng Department of Education launched an investigation in march after a video emerged of a pupil attacking a teacher with what appeared to be an exercise book.

In June The Citizen reported three videos showing violent confrontations between pupils and teachers had surfaced.

Times LIVE reported the day before that Sadtu had warned of a growing trend of pupils attacking teachers after a video, believed to be from Limpopo, showed a pair of schoolgirls punching and kicking a teacher to the ground.

My Take

When I was young corporal punishment was still a thing, and what I found was that it was entirely ineffective so far as I was concerned.

The threat of violence didn’t scare me straight, it just left me with a distinct urge to rebel further.

What worked better for me was always the teacher who I respected, who behaved in a manner consistent with their words and who demonstrated the kind of person I would want to be.

These were, luckily enough, the majority.

Perhaps it was that my mother is North English, and the north as they say, remembers.

More likely though it is that from a young age she instilled in me the understanding that I cannot control the world, but I can control myself. The world isn’t fair – and if you want the world to be a fairer place, you’ve got to start with yourself.

So I look at the abuse of teachers in our schools, and I must admit that what goes through my head is how, in February of this year News24 reported that parents had shut down a the Flagstaff Comprehensive High School in Esiginqini, after six of the teachers allegedly demanded sex from the schoolgirls, and failed the ones who said “no”.

Adams College in KwaZulu Natal was also subject to allegations of abuse, and in the Northern Cape teachers were implicated in impregnating 30 pupils according to IOL.

There is also the ongoing abuse scandal at Parktown Boys.

In June of 2017 Times LIVE reported that the Education Department hadn’t screened a single teacher, principal or official against the National Sexual Offenders Register.

If our teachers are not disciplined how can we expect discipline of our pupils? Discipline derived from fear is always going to be a delicate thing as once the fear is gone, so is the discipline.

Respect on the other hand, is a far more powerful tool. Much as one can lose respect for authority, it is a far harder blow to lose respect for oneself.

Before you can learn to respect yourself you learn to respect others, to see the good in another person is to strive for it in yourself. The best way to achieve discipline thus is not through threats and punishments, it is through being disciplined.

Most of our teachers I would wager are respectable and disciplined people, however unless we put in place mechanisms to deal with those who aren’t, it will be an uphill battle to regain control of our classrooms.

Obviously there are other issues as well. We have a lot of pupils who just shouldn’t be there – pupils who are way out of age group, pupils who are just bullies and need to be treated as such, in some extreme cases we should maybe even consider separate schools for those kids who will just be a problem no matter what you do.

But we’ve got to deal with these abusive teachers as well, or we will never see an end to this problem.

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